Public intellectual and scholar Cornel West traveled to Chicago to once again join the political fray. This time he used the bully pulpit to support mayoral candidate Carol Moseley Braun.
Last month, West, a Princeton University professor and talk show host, campaigned for hip-hop artist Che ‘Rhymefest’ Smith. The rapper is running for alderman in the 20th ward.
A women’s conference committee for Braun organized a rally Sunday at the Parkway Ballroom on South King Drive. West spoke on behalf of Braun and had blistering words about another mayoral candidate. “I believe a Rahm Emanuel victory would be a slap in the face,” West said. “I’m here to support poor and working people - specifically black Chicago.”
West said Chicago can do better – in the spirit of Harold Washington, the city’s first black mayor. He called Emanuel an outsider and intimated that he’s tethered to the corporate elite and big business. “Barack Obama has got it wrong in his support of Rahm Emanuel. I say that out of love,” West said. The crowd applauded loudly. Obama hasn’t technically endorsed his former chief of staff in public, but the president’s voice and image has been used in Emanuel literature.
Among those in attendance at the Braun rally were: businessman John Rogers, one of Braun’s biggest financial benefactors; U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush; historian Timuel Black; Rev. Leon Finney; State Sen. Mattie Hunter and State Sen. Jacqueline Collins.
Braun is using the last days before the Feb. 22. election to go after Emanuel’s congressional record. Braun has been referred to as the so-called black consensus candidate. She rejected that label, pointing to the other black candidates in the race: Patricia Van Pelt Watkins and William “Dock” Walls. Meanwhile, mayoral candidate Gery Chico has garnered support from a group of African-American ministers. The group includes Rev. B. Herbert Martin of Progressive Community Church. Martin was a pastor to Mayor Washington.